Teacher Research Partnership

Project leaders: Sharon Feiman-Nemser and Jonah Hassenfeld (Gann Academy)

This project, a partnership between the Mandel Center and Gann Academy, is addressing the challenges faced by teachers who want to improve their teaching and their students' learning through teacher research.

Too often, professional development in education takes the form of one-time programs that pull teachers out of their day-to-day practice and offer strategies for better teaching. While these programs are important to cultivating professional growth, they are intrinsically limited.  When teachers become researchers, they become better teachers. Researching their own teaching helps teachers reframe everyday problems of practice and come to new insights. Teacher-research, therefore, is among the most productive paths for teachers to grow. Teacher-researchers become sophisticated consumers of educational research and can break down the silos that separate the academic world from the world of practice. They can be essential partners in building knowledge about what works in Jewish education.

Conducting effective teacher research isn’t easy. All researchers encounter obstacles, and without sufficient support in these moments, teachers can feel isolated and unable to proceed.

In 2017-18, the first of two planned years of the project, a cohort of six teachers has been meeting with the co-directors, articulating research questions, familiarizing themselves with the relevant scholarly literature, and designing a study. In the winter and spring they will gather and analyze their data and prepare conference-style presentations.

Cohort I:

  • Gracie Alcid: The Impact of Student Individualized Plans on Student Learning 
  • Hillel Green: “Spiritual but not Religious”: What Students Mean When They Discuss Spirituality and Religion
  • Carolyn Siegel: Latino Identity in a Jewish Day School
  • Emily Hart: Climate Change Education as a Case Study for Values-Based Teaching in an American Jewish Day School
  • Kevin Cattrell: Close Reading Across the Humanities Disciplines at a Jewish Day School
  • Anna Finkelstein: The Development of Jewish Day School Students’ Racial Identities